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Sunday 26 January 2020

Deal on bank debt outside my control, says Taoiseach

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor in Brussels

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny yesterday admitted getting a deal to reduce banking debt is outside his control.

Mr Kenny also said the Government was not going to adjust downwards its predicted rate of economic growth for this year, despite more pessimistic outlooks emerging elsewhere.

The Taoiseach once again reiterated that the issue of a restructuring of the bank debt and the Anglo Irish Bank promissory notes was an entirely separate matter to the upcoming referendum on EU controls over domestic budgets.

The next repayment date comes at the end of this month when €3bn has to be paid over.

Mr Kenny has dismissed Social Welfare Minister Joan Burton's suggestion the EU should ease the burden on the bank repayment "to emphasise the solidarity Ireland has received".

He said the EU-IMF was still working on a technical paper on Ireland's bank debt.

"That is quite complex and quite technical and that work is going on at the moment. And whenever the troika decide to conclude their paper, they will bring it forward, but I made the point yesterday that is an entirely separate process than the process of preparing for a referendum and asking the people the question of support for the stability treaty," he said.

But Mr Kenny also admitted the decision rested with people "whom I don't control".

"We have pointed out how that could impact upon our deficit and how that could impact upon our capacity to repay our debts over a longer period at lower interest rates.

"But I never predict what might come out of the complex and technical discussions that are going on there," he said.

"Clearly the advantage is known but that requires understanding and co-operation, from others over whom I don't control, in regard to central banks and so on, like that," he added.

Mr Kenny also ruled out a downgrading of the Government's official growth forecast.

"Growth depends upon a whole range of issues that are quite uncertain for any country. I note that the ESRI pointed out that Ireland's growth rate would be of the order of 0.9pc, which is the first time a major economic body put stability into this," he said.

"There is not that much difference between our own forecast, which is a medium range forecast and what a major entity like the ESRI have said," he added.

Irish Independent

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